Peter wrote his first letter in a time of great turmoil for the young Christian church. Many Christians were undergoing persecution at the hands of the Roman Emperor, Nero. Peter, Jesus’ tempestuous apostle, addresses the church at large in this epistle on how Christians are to live in a place that is not our home, specifically to those undergoing suffering. He instructs Christians on how to submit to the authorities in our lives, how we are to set examples of love for one another and how our eyes must not be fixed on the temporary, but on the eternal. Jen Wilkin tackles this challenging letter by walking us through her deep-dwelling and enriching method for Bible study.
The Skinny: First things first, Jen explains how you are to use the study and why. If any of you have read her book, Women of the Word, she condenses much of that information in the introduction of this study. I would recommend that you read this intro as it is useful in your day-to-day approach! Jen breaks the study into 9 sessions. I met with my group each week to go through one session. For each week of the study, there is a corresponding video, which is optional and we chose not to utilize.
The study had a rhythm for each week with these components:
- a brief intro to the passage we would be studying
- a read through of 1 Peter in its entirety
- big picture questions and others focused in on that week’s passage
- instruction to paraphrase that portion of Scripture in your own words
- group discussion questions gleaned from that week’s study
- a space for any additional notes
What I Loved: Jen throws us in the deep end of the 1 Peter pool, but not without the floaties of additional resources and Scripture. Don’t let that scare you, though: anyone can use this study! Jen is a big proponent of driven learning. You will get out of this study what you put in. There is no hand-holding you to the Spiritual truths; that would defy the very purpose of Jen’s method of study. She provides you with the guidance you need to find God’s truth on your own or in the group discussion. And I love that. I could use this study as what it was: A RESOURCE with Scripture being the sole focus! I must warn y’all that there is no flowery language or personal stories that somehow apply to the Scripture. It is just a book of paper with questions for you to fill with your own ink. For example, each day gives you questions based on the passage, word definitions to look up, cross-references to find, and parallels to draw. I also LOVED that Jen include the whole book of 1 Peter at the back of the book to mark up as you studied.
What I Didn't Love: Since our group didn’t use the video sessions, there were a couple of instances when the questions correlating to the video felt incomplete. Additionally, my note-loving heart and hand missed the more spacious areas to answer the questions, especially when it came to sections where we wrote down definitions and related verses. Also, throughout the course of the study Jen would have us highlight words in 1 Peter in different colors and then go through and record how many times those specific words occurred. This may be more impactful for a visual learner, but for me it became more of a busy-work exercise. Finally, You will get out of this study what you put in. You’ll notice that I included this as one of the things that I loved about this study, which I do! But it also was a struggle for me to be self-disciplined enough to put in the daily work I needed to richly dwell in this book. The weeks where I put in the time to learn were much more impactful to me than the weeks where I hastily scribbled out answers the night before our group meeting. It was a challenge. It wasn’t always fun. I didn’t always love it. Was it worth it? Absolutely.
My Profound Truth: Y’all. There are so many profound truths in 1 Peter that it was hard for me to pick one. All of them link together with Peter’s themes of living as exiles with the hope of eternity. 1 Peter 2:21-25 sums up the purpose of the book by discussing how we are called to submit to others, even if suffering is involved. Why? Christ submitted and suffered for us so that we may receive our eternal inheritance: salvation! This inheritance makes any temporary suffering we face bearable because we ourselves are not temporary. Our bodies may be earthly, but our souls are eternal. We have better things to look forward to. When we keep in mind that this earthly life is just a shadow, we are free to live as God intended: without fear, giving all praise and glory to Him, filled with love for one another. But part of that life of freedom means becoming examples of the one who submitted himself to the will of God and died for us all. If Jesus is called to submit, suffer, and die, then so are we. It’s a hard truth, but a chain-breaking one. What do we have to be afraid of? Our inheritance is set! Our salvation is secure! Nothing on this earth can touch the promise that God has given us. That is good news! We can rejoice in the midst of suffering because we are being made more like Christ! Amen, amen, amen!
If you want to feel the chains of fear break off and learn what living as a Christ-follower and an exile looks like, I highly recommend this study. It will push you to seek out truth. The good news is you don’t have to study alone. Find a group of women, hold each other accountable and have grace with each other. God desires us to seek him out, and if that is your desire then this is a study for you.
Elise wants to live in a world where you can eat as much pizza as you want without concerns about your waistline. When she's not guzzling tea, you can find her reveling in God's nature or watching exorbitant amounts of Gilmore Girls. One of her favorite Scriptures is Ephesians 5:8-10: "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord." Explore her other favorite Scriptures and get to know her on Instagram at @eliseherzing.